Sundance Film Festival 2021: The Female Gaze
By Tiffany Ike

  This year, the Sundance Film Festival will be presenting 50 short films from around the world. Out of those 50 films, 48% (24 films) were directed by women. As we continue to push for equity for women in the industry, let us celebrate the amazing women who will be showcasing their films at this year’s festival!  

MOUNTAIN CAT (Mongolia-U.K.)

Director: Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir

A troubled girl is coerced into seeing a shaman. Trapped by the ancient beliefs that pacify her mother, she finds peace in the physical realm, unleashing her repressed, youthful spirit on the shaman when she realizes his true identity.



Director: Josefin Malmén

He may be god enough, but is he good enough? A slightly surreal comedic exploration of the fine line between a bodybuilder’s self-loathing and self-loving.


BAMBIRAK (Germany)

Director: Zamarin Wahdat

When Kati stows away in her father’s truck, Faruk must juggle his responsibilities as a single dad while holding down his first job in a new country. As their relationship deepens, a brush with covert racism tests their bond.


FIVE TIGER (South Africa)

Director: Nomawonga Khumalo

A God-fearing woman in present-day South Africa finds herself in a transactional relationship as she tries to support her sick husband and daughter.



Director: Melody C. Roscher

Amidst a racially tense Southern wedding, a biracial bride has the chance to confront her estranged Black father after accidentally hiring his wedding band to perform.


LATA (India-U.S.)

Director: Alisha Tejpal

Lata, a 23-year-old domestic worker, navigates her way through an upper-class home in South Mumbai. Doors consistently open and close, giving Lata selective access to the various contending realities that occupy this space.



Director: Rikke Gregersen

Minutes before takeoff, a situation occurs, preventing an airplane from departing. In an attempt to prevent the deportation of one passenger, another refuses to sit down—forcing the pilot to take a political stand.



Directors: Sam Guest, Julia Baylis

Determined to save her wheelchair ramp from repossession, Daisy confronts the shady insurance agent who owes her money.


AVA FROM MY CLASS (U.S.-South Korea)

Director: Youmin Kang

Anna thinks Ava is the best actress in her class.



Director and Screenwriter: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall

A Black man comes face-to-face with the realities of being Black in the twenty-first century.



Director: Annie St-Pierre

December 24, 1984, 10:50 p.m.: Julie and her cousins ate too much sugar, and Santa Claus is late. Denis, alone in his car, is anxious about setting foot in his former in-laws’ house to pick up his children.



Director: Trish Harnetiaux

An idyllic picnic of one is upended after the arrival of a stranger.



Director: Hazel McKibbin

A young woman grapples with the aftermath of reporting sexual harassment in the workplace.


Animation Spotlight



Director and Screenwriter: Alisi Telengut

An exploration of the Indigenous worldview and wisdom based on ancient shamanistic traditions and animistic beliefs in Siberia and Mongolia. With handcrafted animation, a testament of reclaiming animism for environmental ethics and nonhuman materialities.



Directors: Sara Hirner, Rosemary Vasquez-Brown

Glenn is a woman on an unwholesome mission, but just how far will she go to conquer the clique—and social media at large?



Director: Sasha Lee

As Seolgi is lying on a grass field with friends, a shooting star falls, and dark, intrusive thoughts hit her. Her melancholy blooms into bright and colorful “flower people,” dancing and wishing for a meteorite to end the world.


Documentary Shorts 



Director: Ciara Lacy

An exploration of the creative process, following native Hawaiian slam poet Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, as her art is reinvigorated by her calling to protect sacred sites atop Maunakea, Hawai’i.



Directors: Kaitlyn Schwalje, Alex Wolf Lewis

Snowy, a four-inch-long pet turtle, has lived an isolated life in the family basement. With help from a team of experts and his caretaker, Uncle Larry, we ask: Can Snowy be happy, and what would it take?



Director: Renee Maria Osubu

With the help of their family, friends, and faith, three fathers unravel the incomparable partnership of forgiveness and community in North Philadelphia.



Director: Sierra Pettengill

Told entirely through archival material tracing Harlon Carter, considered the “father of the modern NRA,” across the decades, this short film reveals the links between the National Rifle Association, the U.S. Border Patrol, and gun culture.



Director: Noémie Nakai

Yoshida is a self-proclaimed “tears teacher.” A firm believer that regular crying promotes healthier living, he’s made it his mission to make more people weep.



Directors: Meghan O’Hara, Mike Attie, Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck

A group of fifth graders learns what it takes to get ahead in the modern American workplace.



Director: Natalie A. Chao

A poetic exploration of the camera’s gaze and a family’s relationship with the filmmaker’s mother.


SPIRITS AND ROCKS: AN AZOREAN MYTH (Belgium-Hungary-Switzerland-Portugal)

Director: Aylin Gökmen

On a volcanic island, inhabitants are caught in an unending cycle: The threat of impending eruptions and the burden of past traumas loom over them. Some draw upon myth and religious beliefs to interpret their precarious situation; others demonstrate resilience.


Watch The Best of Sundance, through the years, on Argo

Watch The Best of Sundance: Animation 

Watch The Best of Sundance: Women Directors


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Email: [email protected]

Instagram: @watch.argo

Twitter: @watch_argo

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